Options

Options

The third possibility for the success or failure of a single action is the creation of options. Success on one action might make it possible to take a further action, while that action is not possible if the first action fails. For example, if a persona convinces a character to talk to her, she then has the option of asking the character questions. If she fails to engage the character in conversation, then she cannot ask questions.

If a single action happens in isolation, it should create an option on a success rather than removing one on a failure. Suppose that the roll does remove an option on failure. If the roll is optional, players will simply not make it. Why would they make a roll that cannot improve things, but might make them worse? If the roll is compulsory, then it is best thought of as creating the option on a success, rather than removing it on a failure. The players do not really have the option before they make the roll, because they have to make the roll first.

This is not true if the action is linked to other features of the situation. For example, a roll to avoid removing an option might only be required if the characters take certain actions. If a persona insults a character, the player might have to roll to avoid losing the option to continue the conversation. Alternatively, there might be a benefit other than the creation of an option from success on the roll. Telling a rude joke might give you a bonus to future rolls to deal with someone if you succeed, but remove the option of talking to him if you fail.

In general, however, rolls that remove options should be treated carefully, because they risk bringing the story to a halt. In a broad sense, the simple success/failure model is a version of this possibility, where the option lost is the option to continue the story.

The options created by these actions must be genuinely optional; it must be entirely possible to continue the story without them. The newly-available action might grant a bonus, or change the context, in a way that was not previously possible. Alternatively, it might allow the personae to tackle a problem in a different way, using different abilities. In general, personae do not have all abilities, and they are better at some than at others, so this might be a very appealing option. However, there should be a way to succeed that was available both before and after the roll.

These three applications seem to cover most of the things that we might want a single action to do, and I will use all three. Single actions either grant a bonus or penalty, change the context, or create an option.

This brings in a meta-rule. If a single action would do none of the above, then there is no point rolling for it. For actions that are possible for the persona, the player simply decides whether it succeeds or fails, no matter how unlikely success is. If the persona cannot perform the action, then it fails, and has no consequences. So, a player can say “Yoshihiko tosses a coin thirty times, and it comes up heads every time. He grabs the other personae to come and see, and tosses another ten heads”. This is possible, and has no impact on the story, so it’s simply colour. However, a player cannot say “Yoshihiko turns into a miniature dragon and flies around the room while he is waiting”, unless Yoshihiko has the ability to turn into a miniature, flying dragon.

This does mean that the same action might sometimes require a roll and sometimes not, depending on whether the outcome affects the story. That, however, is just part of playing a game.

Single actions are not the whole of Kannagara; creation is at least as important. Before I discuss the mechanics for that, however, I want to say a bit more about matsuri, as the creation of matsuri is one of the main things that players will use the creation rules to do.

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